Don't waste cash on English

21st October 2005 at 01:00
* I was struck by the use of the term "significant" in the article "Don't waste cash on English" (TES, October 7). Researchers claim that spending an extra pound;100 per pupil raised key stage 3 maths and science scores by a small but significant amount (0.04 of a level), while extra spending had no effect on English scores.

We need to distinguish clearly between statistical and educational significance. Is the figure of 0.04 educationally significant? What in the real world is meant by 0.04 (one twenty-fifth) of a level? What real difference would that make to pupils' or schools' results? Is this, as the report suggests, an illustration of "bangs for bucks" or a case of "statistics for suckers"?

Professor Colin Richards

1 Bobbin Mill

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

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